Starbucks said Monday it will pay the travel expenses for U.S. employees to access abortion and gender-confirmation procedures if those services aren't available within 100 miles of a worker's home.
The Seattle coffee giant said it will also make the travel benefit available to the dependents of employees who are enrolled in Starbucks' health care plan. Starbucks has 240,000 U.S. employees but the company didn't say what percentage of them are enrolled in the its health care plan.
Starbucks is among the most high-profile companies to have adopted a travel benefit in the wake of a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would abolish the nationwide right to abortion.
“Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality health care,” Sara Kelly, Starbucks acting executive vice president of partner resources, wrote in a letter to employees.
Amazon is also covering up to $4,000 in travel and lodging expenses for employees seeking non-life threatening medical treatments, including abortions and gender-confirming procedures. According to messages sent to staff, the benefit has been in place since the beginning of this year and applies if the procedure is not available within within 100 miles of an employee’s home.
Tesla also said earlier this month it would cover travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state abortions. Some companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Yelp and Citigroup, have pledged to pay travel costs for Texas employees who seek abortions, in response to a 2021 Texas law banning abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy.
But many other companies, including Walmart and Facebook, have stayed silent on the hot-button issue for now.
The move by some companies to cover abortion expenses has been a subject of intense criticism among conservatives, many of whom have also expressed hopes that the Supreme Court will follow through ont the course of action outlined in the leaked ruling and reverse Roe. They are urging the matter of abortion's legality to be decided state by state.
In a clear move to penalize such companies, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,this month proposed a bill that would prohibit employers from deducting expenses related to their employees' abortion travel costs or so-called "gender affirming care" for young children of their employees.
Rubio’s legislation, the No Tax Breaks for Radical Corporate Activism Act, has very little chance of becoming law with Democrats in power, but is a glimpse into GOP messaging and legislation the party would consider if Republicans are successful in the upcoming midterm elections.
"Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life," said Rubio. "Instead, too often our corporations find loopholes to subsidize the murder of unborn babies or horrific 'medical' treatments on kids. My bill would make sure this does not happen."
Starbucks said the travel benefit __ which expands existing coverage for abortion and gender-confirmation procedures __ would be extended to employees on the company's health care plan even if they work in stores that have voted to unionize. At least 69 of the company's U.S. stores have voted to unionize since the end of 2021, and many more have petitioned the federal government to hold union elections. Starbucks opposes unionization.
Earlier this month, Starbucks angered labor organizers when it announced enhanced pay and benefits for workers at its non-union stores. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said at the time that the company isn't legally allowed to offer benefits at union stores, since those stores must negotiate their own contracts.
Starbucks shares fell 4% to close at $72.42 Monday.
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